MAD//Fest London is back this year along with Vertis Media as proud partners!

Location: The Truman Brewery, East London on 7-8 July with 4,000+ industry leaders.

MAD//Fest, as ever, is the opportunity for our team to forge new relationships, explore partnerships and meet our peers in person as well as stay ahead of the adtech trends defining 2021.

A great reminder of the power of real connection, especially after everything that has happened during the past year. Having said that, 2021’s MAD//Fest will also offer attendees the opportunity to watch all the action from afar with a virtual ticket.

MAD//Fest London 2021 have transformed a giant East London car park into an outdoor summer festival under a giant canopy…because you just can’t trust the weather!

It will be a “unique summer festival experience” that brings the industry together to explore the latest trends, innovations and brand strategies in the marketing industry.

There will be 150+ global CMOs, challengers, futurists, agency leaders, activists and media powerhouses across 5 stages tackling the festival theme: ‘Where Do We Go From Here’.

This year’s event will feature a dedicated creative stage for the first time, with topics that cover tech, innovation, experience and media.

MAD//Fest London’s successful PITCH//IT initiative, in which start-ups pitch for £20k pilots from the world’s top brands, is also back. In November 2020, The Q and Spirable secured £20k pilots from Diageo and McCormick respectively after competing in a virtual edition of PITCH//IT at MAD//Anywhere.

MAD//Fest London is so much fun, it brings together marketing, media, tech and creatives and with 2020 being such a tough year for everyone in the industry this is going to be a great opportunity to get together, share ideas and gather valuable insight on what the future looks like for businesses.

If you’d like to discuss where contextual and native advertising fits in your 2021 plan, come and find us or get in touch!

What’s hyper personalisation and how can you use it to attract those customers more likely to stick around?

Brands are now are moving towards a deeper knowledge of their audiences and delivering digital experiences especially designed to meet their interests, needs and relationship with their business.

What is hyper-personalization and how can it benefit you?

Your customers spend hours and hours viewing thousands of commercial messages as they interact, daily, with different kinds of media.

Hyper-personalization helps businesses break through all of this noise with truly customized marketing messages and service offerings. It’s designed to achieve individual customer preferences, in terms of product offerings and digital content. It depends on big data and AI technology to deliver tailor-made experiences in real time.

The power of context

Hyper-personalization is responsive to context: i.e., how the consumer’s demands may shift depending on location, what time it is and their past purchase behaviour. For instance, Spotify and Netflix employ hyper-personalized methods which pre-empt the preferences of their users to make relevant content suggestions.

Does hyper-personalization mean brands can deliver better customer experiences?

Absolutely! When brands employ an analytics-driven hyper-personalization plan, it increases their marketing’s efficiency and engages customers for longer periods of time by refining and ‘learning’ what works for them.

3 Steps to developing a hyper-personalization plan:

  1. Define which goals need to be achieved. What are the intended behaviours for the target group?
  2. Segmentation of behaviour patterns. Identify optimal interaction strategies for each segment.
  3. Implement analytical techniques and machine learning. The aim is to build an automated self-learning system in which underlying interaction patterns are continually optimized

As with other digital operations, hyper-personalization benefits greatly from the close cooperation and alignment between those involved in the brand’s marketing, business and technology departments.

Vertis Media gives brands full visibility into their data profiles and can enhance privacy and make them feel more in control.

Native ads on premium news sites are more trusted than ads that appear on social media platforms, so if you have any questions on how you can make this transition work for you, we are here!

“Heroic” stories- how important are they for the success of marketing your business?

How to connect with your audience and tell better stories

storytelling, coffee cup and pen

We spoke to someone lately who said they found it hard to work with a client because they did not want to “open up”. They didn’t want to tell the story of their business without disclosing personal or vulnerable details of their life.

We found it interesting that a trained professional and expert in their field considered this hesitancy to disclose more intimate details as a sticking point in allowing them to find ways of connecting their client to their target audience.

You are not keen on including “heroic” stories as part of a marketing strategy?

Here are a few alternatives:

  • Why not focus on how you’ve transformed other people’s lives or helping them with their story? It could be more effective to tell someone else’s story and explain how you contributed to their development.
  • Create an “About” page that tells people who you are and what you specialise in.
  • Aside from content, its distribution is just as important. It’s about getting what you write in front of the right eyeballs. It needs to be well aimed and seen by your target audience to build up trust for your product or service. Native and contextual advertising goes one step further to bring in new leads that have not crossed paths with your products and services yet but that have been viewing those adjacent to them. When it comes to distribution, native and contextual advertising can reach users at any stage of the funnel content distribution.

Native and contextual advertising

This type of advertising can be a continuation of your content marketing plan: your best content delivered efficiently by native and contextual in order to grow your brand and expand your reach. Many successful businesses already benefit from combining their content marketing and native advertising efforts.


Babbel is a learning app and e-learning platform that runs successful native advertising campaigns reaching potential users worldwide. The ads build brand awareness as well as driving leads with ‘Discover our 15-minute lessons’ CTA at the end of the article.

If you would like to talk through how we can help you with your storytelling strategy contact us to discuss which strategies could work best for you.

What type of native advertising format is best for you?

What type of native advertising format is best for you?

The variety of native ad units makes it difficult to select the right one but the perfect choice can be crucial for the success of your campaign. When it comes to digital, native advertising is the relatively new kid on the block that everyone wants to make friends with!

Here are some useful tips on how to create your native ad strategy

It is useful to combine native advertising with other types of advertising. Typically, native ads are part of a more comprehensive content marketing strategy.

Here is a short guide to creating a marketing strategy that includes native advertising.

1. List your objectives

What goals do you want to achieve with native advertising? Having a clear set of goals is the quickest route to success.

Set up realistic goals by waiting at least 3 months to gather data and set up realistic objectives.

Some goals to focus on:

  • Boost awareness of your brand
  • Increase traffic to your site
  • Generate more sales leads

Budgeting: once you’ve defined your goals, work out how much you can spend to reach them. Create an appropriate budget for your native ads campaign.

Make sure your budget allows for some flexibility to react to online feedback and optimisation as the native ads campaign progresses.

2. Reach your audience

To produce the right content at the right time, ask yourself:

  • Who is my ideal user?
  • Do I know the who, what, where, when and how of my audience?
  • What are my audience’s preferences, interests, demographic characteristics and geographic composition?

3. How do you want to reach your target audience?

This is an essential question to consider when creating a native ad strategy.
Though there is no need to produce the content for the duration of the campaign in advance do set up the timelines and budgets for each native ad campaign and think about which platforms and formats to use for your native ads and each campaign’s theme and goal.

Some great channels where you can publish your content:

  • Youtube for videos and vlogs
  • Medium for blogs
  • Pinterest for pinning blog posts with images
  • iTunes for podcasts
  • Quora for Q&A type of exposure

4. Work on your content ideas

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of your native ad strategy.

It’s time to get creative and start developing ideas for the content each native ad campaign will run.

Find inspiration in what your native ad campaign’s goal is and your knowledge about your target audience. Keep in mind the intended publisher’s guidelines when creating the specific ads and other content pieces.

Does your content fit the following?

  • Platform
  • Format
  • Goals
  • Target audience

Remember: your native advertising content will seamlessly blend in with the rest of the content on an app, website, or publisher.

5. Measure Your Campaign’s Performance

It is useful to know how your native ads are performing in its early stages. Measure the performance during the campaign and optimize it regularly to get the best results.

Data is your most valuable asset.

Gather as much relevant data as you can to monitor and decide what your next steps should be. Don’t be afraid to try out different subject lines, images or videos, and CTAs, then collect performance data to understand what works best.

Choosing the best native ad unit for you

So, which is the best native ad unit for you? It depends! Here are some:


In-feed social media marketing is the most famous form of native advertising. Here sponsored posts target their users in their news feeds or suggested via trending topics.


Native advertising on social media is considered “in-feed”, but not all in-feed native advertising takes place on social platforms. Real time bidding allows digital marketers to use targeting techniques and offer relevant ads to people across a list of pre-approved websites. While the ad takes on the look and feel of an article, it is possible to differentiate it from organic content by an advertising label.

Recommended Content

While in-feed ads are generally placed within a publisher’s content feed, recommended content is nearly always located at the bottom of a given publisher site. Just like an in-feed ad, users can click on it and are taken out of the publisher site to the blog or landing page of the brand responsible for the ad.

Test, test, test

…to make sure your ads are targeted at your ideal client types and get in touch for more tips and guidance when it comes to your native ad campaigns.

What work habits you should keep in a post-Covid reality?

work habits post covid

As we begin to come out of our homes and perhaps return to our offices, which professional routines should we continue to stick to?

A tight grip on content development

To make up for cancelled in-person activities and events, digital content took centre stage in the form of blogs, videos, websites and more. Repurposing material in a variety of marketing assets and with less tradeshows and face to face events, even one person was able to create enough content output to rival what an entire marketing team could have produced in ‘normal times’ (well, nearly!).

Since more than 50% of the buying process happens online, with content higher up on the list of priorities the chances are you’ve seen an increase in potential leads at a time when the interest in content is undoubtedly at one of its highest peaks.

Working together can be better apart

“Can you see my screen?” and “Can everyone mute themselves please?”, have very likely the most repeated phrases in homes everywhere! Though at times frustrating and sometimes technically challenging, the frequent online meetings did not seem to hinder creativity.

The pandemic has forced us to admit that much needed to be improved when it came to work-life balance as it became a necessity to carry out both in the same space. And in the same space as others.

The fact that there was no need to commute, potentially meant more energy for other tasks and the chance to focus more deeply on different projects. It would be nice to maintain some of these boundaries around our time, once things go back to ‘normal’.

Remote working can blossom into empowerment

When the world went into lockdown, one of the worries was not being able to share and bounce ideas off colleagues- marketing tends to be collaborative and isolation made it harder to quickly confront ourselves or a vision with some trusted advice from a co-worker.

This missing in-person validation, or if not missing certainly more difficult to achieve, has brought about an increased independence and encouraged trust in individual decision-making at a difficult moment, when it became a priority to keep things moving even through rough times.

To every challenge faced a solution has emerged and perhaps it’s time to look at those things that have encouraged us to do an even better job during this moment of crisis and hold on to them in the future, whatever that future may look like.

Why is Native Advertising Controversial?

Why is Native Advertising Controversial?

If the dream is to ‘sell’ to people without them feeling sold to then how often does native advertising leave users feeling like they’ve been had?

The dream is to introduce target audiences to valuable content which genuinely engages them while raising awareness for the products and services promoted.

This is precisely what native advertising aims for

So, what’s the issue? There has been a lot of criticism lately around the fact that users read what they think is simple information, an article or blog post perhaps, only to discover it is, in fact, an advert. When done right, however, native advertising can be extremely satisfying for all parties involved.
Let’s dig a bit deeper and find out how…

What is Native Advertising?

Native Advertising is one of those things that you know it when you see it but can be a little challenging to define.
Some experts will explain native advertising as a form of communication so interconnected to its context that readers cannot tell it is advertising.

The Native Advertising Institute, on the other hand, states that “native advertising needs to be valuable content of a non-interruptive nature – which is typically not the case with in-stream advertising.”
The definition they provide is: “paid advertising where the ad matches the form, feel and function of the content of the media on which it appears.”

How Does Native Advertising Work?

The average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages every day! This incredibly high figure would also explain the reason behind users tuning out of ads on a regular basis. People scroll past banner ads because they become a blur… just something that comes between them and the content they are trying to consume.

Experiencing ads in a relevant context

Native advertising, however, forms part of the experience and it involves users in a more engaging way- making the interaction more meaningful.

Native stats

Native Ads influence purchase decisions more subconsciously since the advertising message is woven into the content in a relevant context.

Specifically, native ads generally have:

  • 2x more engagement than banner ads
  • 18% higher purchase intent compared to banner ads
  • 53% more chances of being viewed compared to than banner ads

Is Native Advertising Ethical?

If the content is clearly labelled as an advertisement, then the answer is ‘yes’.
Even though the ad may look like a regular article or video, if a native ad is properly presented as an ad with text that states “advertisement” or something along those lines, you’ll know that it has been placed in that context intentionally.

It’s easy to get started. We can help you achieve ads that are beautiful in a brand safe environment in less than 24 hours.
Don’t fall behind on the latest native & contextual news- check out our blog

Context is king: Is it time to rethink your KPIs?

After Covid, the three Cs of brand development: Customer, Company and Competitors will need to give way to Context, as brands redefine their KPIs to rise up to the challenge of the Pandemic by focusing on the strength of reputation.

For almost a year now, brands have been rethinking their strategy to cope with a new reality: from changing workspaces and policies to developing new directions to ensure a resilient approach in the face of the threat posed to their operations.

This has meant establishing what new KPIs may look like and in the midst of all the changes one thing has emerged as a consistent certainty: context.

Achieve your key business objectives

Contextual advertising has been around for a while but with the recent focus on data and user privacy, it is becoming an increasingly important approach both as a standalone approach as well as running alongside other forms of marketing. The contextual field is one that is fertile with innovation and new technical solutions and it continues to evolve every day.

So, contextual advertising has finally made a comeback and is stronger than ever by taking even bigger leaps in the right direction when it comes to keyword blocking and URL blocklisting. More attention is being paid to making sure the ad matches with the webpage content and ensuring that the ads are contextually relevant for the target audience. It offers a mixture of privacy compliance and scale that, up until now, third-party cookie alternatives do not.

What is contextual relevance?

To be contextually relevant means prioritising the how individual words and phrases relate to each other, the demography of the audience they target and its geolocation. How the words can be used or interpreted will make or break the success of an advertising strategy.

What needs to be done to change your brand’s current marketing and communications?

The focus is on reputation and ensuring a brand safe inventory is a vital part of this strategy. Following on from this, publishers are also more than willing to put in efforts to qualify their content accurately because advertisers would be willing to pay premium CPMs for contextual friendly environments.

Needless to say, this process is constantly evolving and will continue to do so as we witness increasingly AI based technologies emerging to help increase the success of contextual advertising.

The exit of third-party cookies and the focus on brand safety have put contextual advertising in prime position. With more advertisers looking for audience targeting options, rather than behavioural targeting, context will continue to play a strong role in the future of digital advertising.

Why Is Context Crucial?

contextual advertising

Until not so long ago, contextual solutions for advertising served two main purposes: brand safety and the identification of a potentially relevant inventory for ads based on keywords or contextual information.

The last few years, however, contextual advertising has taken advantage of powerful new technologies that provide a strong variety of cutting-edge capabilities and tools.

The businesses that are making the most of that innovation are no doubt gaining an advantage over their competitors in being heard by key audiences in relevant environments whilst protecting their brands.

The following 3 developments in contextual advertising are providing opportunities for the marketers of today and tomorrow:

1- Adding More than Text to Contextual:Impact and Relevance

This truly is an exciting step forward in contextual advertising: a horizon solely comprising words is expanding to include audio, video, images, and more.

Advertisers can use their existing contextual intelligence solutions through ever evolving integrations, allowing them to keep up with changing technologies and consumer consumption patterns through multimedia and multiple formats.

Marketers are now given a comprehensive understanding of content which includes audio, video, and images ensuring a more useful understanding when and where to publish ads.

2-The move from brand safety to brand suitability

The keyword-based blacklist approach used by many companies encompasses words, such as shoot or drugs, making it too wide and ineffective to a properly address the subtlety of brands and the human aspect of language more generally.

The appropriateness of contextual intelligence taps into the uniqueness of brand identity in order to offer control over where ads appear. It also avoids inappropriate content while maintaining the ability to stay connected to the particular reality of the brand.

3-Content analysis that makes the most of consumer trends

Content analysis is a portal into consumer engagement and hot topics that can lead to highly productive planning centred around specific dates: holidays, events, upcoming news, and other opportunities.

Contextual intelligence also allows marketers to analyze trending content to capitalise on media and make the most of real-time opportunities. This kind of event-based content is a core part of a strategy which aims to work from quality audience data. Marketers can take advantage of positive, brand-building content whilst avoiding negative information.

The result? A campaign that’s optimized to be its most relevant at the time of its delivery.

How much could a cyber attack cost your business?

Figures show fewer companies are using security tools to identify abnormal activity, meaning firms are less aware than before of the breaches and attacks businesses are facing. The average cost of a cyber attack on a business is £8,460. This figure rises to £13,400 for medium and large businesses.

Why are businesses failing to protect themselves against cyber attacks?

The pandemic has meant that digital transformation has become vital to the UK economy and with so many more people relying on technology and digital services, cyber criminals have upped their game with a variety of ransomware and malware attacks.

Nearly half of businesses (47 per cent) are allowing employees to use personal devices for work, could this be contributing to the rise in breaches?

Figures show fewer businesses are taking recommended cyber security measures

A new report released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) suggests the cyber risk to organisations is heightened because of the pandemic.

Two in five businesses (39 per cent) report having cyber security breaches and attacks over the last 12 months.

The increase in employees working from home has meant a greater cyber risk to companies …

And phishing remains the most common threat followed by instances of others impersonating their organisation online, viruses or other malware including ransomware.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman stated last month that the government is investing £1.9 billion in cyber security to make the UK the safest place to live and work online.

The government believe a new era of digital growth is at risk …

And it is urging organisations to follow expert guidance to boost their online resilience.

The Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021 report shows that the pandemic has made businesses more vulnerable to attack as organisational resources are directed towards facilitating remote working for employees.

Here are useful guides on secure measures for:

Video Conferencing

Secure working from home

Moving your business from physical to digital

Is your boss watching you?

Monitoring software is on the up now that many are working remotely. How comfortable are you with always-on video services?

a young man looking through window blinds

The YouGov survey of 2,000 employers commissioned by Skillcast, showed that 10-20% of UK businesses are already using tracking software to monitor their staff remotely.

Monitoring software is flourishing during the pandemic but how comfortable would you feel about being digitally surveilled by your employer?

Employers have the option to install video cameras, read postal mail and e-mail, monitor phone and computer usage, use GPS tracking, and more to make sure that their workforce are still maintaining focus and productivity.

In today’s mostly office-free reality, can bosses still legally monitor their employees? The answer is yes! As long as the reason for monitoring is important enough to the business.

As working from home has become the norm, so has employee monitoring software and there are plenty of alternatives to choose from.

Some track how much time employees spend on social media, take screenshots of their monitors at scheduled intervals or record different tasks or even every single key pressed.

It is also possibility that you are being watched through your webcams via always-on video services like Sneek.

Most employees need to give their consent via agreements that imply they shouldn’t assume privacy when using work devices but the current situation raises some interesting questions when it comes to what is legal and what isn’t.

So what do you think? Now that workspaces have changed is employee tracking fair game?